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Holiday Ambrosia

This easy tropical fruit salad is a slight twist on the 50’s classic. It makes a festive holiday side, that is quick and simple enough that children can help make it.

Click the links below if you’re looking for our other holiday recipes:


  • 1 – 14oz. can of Pineapple Tidbits in JUICE (we use Dole)
  • 1 – 14oz. can of Mandarin Oranges in JUICE
  • 1 – 16oz. jar of Maraschino Cherries (no stems)
  • 5 oz. of Sweetened Shredded Coconut (about 3/4 of a small bag)
  • 1 tub of Cool Whip, thawed (can add more if extra whip is your thing!)
  • 1 5 oz. container of Black Cherry (Fruit on the Bottom) Greek Yogurt (we use Choibani Black Cherry greek yogurt with fruit on the bottom, Mixed Berry could also work.)
  • 1 cup of Green Grapes (we leave them whole, but you can half them if desired.)
  • 1 tablespoon of Strawberry flavored instant Jello
  • 5 oz. (1/2 bag) of mini Marshmallows


  1. Drain both the mandarin oranges and pineapple well and place in large bowl.
  2. Add in shredded coconut, grapes, and yogurt. Mix to incorporate all ingredients.
  3. Add Cool Whip to the bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the instant Jello. Mix well.
  4. Reserving the juices, (we’ll use some of it in a moment) add the cherries to the salad.
  5. Use the remaining cherry juice to sparingly tint and flavor the fruit mixture to your tasting. Only add a tablespoon or two of cherry juice at a time and stir until it is light pink in color.
  6. Add marshmallows and stir.
  7. Cover and return Ambrosia to fridge for at least an hour before serving.

NOTE: Too much liquid makes this salad runny. It should be fluffy. If you find you’ve added too much juice, add some more Cool Whip to help counter.

Curb Appeal

Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree!

Does shopping for a tree leave you confused? We’ve got our tried and true tips for picking the perfect tree whether it’s artificial or real.

Artificial vs. Real Trees? Which is better?

It’s really up to you, there is no one option that is “better” than the other. This is really a question of your personal aesthetics. Modern artificial trees are pretty convincing in look and feel, yet there is also something magical about the smell and look of a real tree.

If you still can’t decide, consider your home’s storage space:

  • If you have space to store it, an artificial tree is typically less maintenance because it doesn’t have to be watered.
  • If you are short on space, a real tree is great because you get rid of it at the end of the holiday season. Note: real trees are more maintenance because they need regular watering to stay green and not turn into a fire hazard.

Think of a real tree as a giant bouquet of flowers,

no water = no longevity.

Start with the basics, know your numbers:

    • How tall are the ceilings in the space where the Christmas tree will be displayed? Ideally, your tree should have at least a foot or two of space over the top of it. No one wants a smooshed angel.
    • How wide is the area?
    • Bring a tape measure with you to verify your selection. Don’t end up like the Griswold’s. 😅
    • Trees on the lot are usually LARGER than you think. Trees bought online or in a box are often SMALLER than you think. (We’ll get into why below.)

How to choose an artificial tree:

  • If shopping online, or by an unopened box, trees are often smaller than we think. They are measured from the tallest point on the tree, which is usually a long stick to hold the tree topper. I bought a 3′ tree online, and it seems much smaller than that in person, but when I measured it, it is exactly 3′ to the tip top, and that top stick is about 7″ on it’s own.
  • Pre-lit trees are beautiful, but don’t count on it lasting forever. The lights on these go out as often as a string of lights would. However, they do make it much easier to concentrate on the fun parts of decorating, rather than untangling strings of lights. Just know at some point, you will probably need to supplement pre-lit trees with string lights.
    • You can extend the life of the tree and lights by storing the tree in a cooler place like a closet, rather than a garage or attic.
    • Keep the box. Follow breakdown and set up instructions for optimal performance.
    • Look for tree options with LED lights, as they often have a longer shelf life and cost less to operate.

How to choose a real tree:

  • Shop at a tree lot, where the trees have been sustainably harvested – ideally from a Christmas tree farm. Trees that are harvested properly, shaped, and cared for often last longer.
  • Look for green needles. A healthy tree will have springy needles on somewhat flexible branches. If the needles immediately fall off and the branches are brittle, the tree is too dry.
  • Be cautious with festive “colorful” trees: sometimes the vibrantly colored trees can be hiding imperfections or a withering tree.
  • Remember: trees on the lot or farm will always LOOK smaller than they actually are because there is so much open space above and around them. Be sure to measure.
  • Timing is everything: The trees are usually freshest and most maintained at the start of the holiday season. The longer trees are sitting on the lot (especially in the Florida heat) the more dried out they become.

Live tree care is pretty simple:

  • If the x-mas tree lot has the service or if you are confident doing it yourself, cut an inch or so off of the trunk to assure the tree is drawing enough fresh water to sustain itself.
  • Top off the water often, we do it daily – you’d be surprised how much water a tree drinks!

The best kind of stands for live trees:

After trying every kind of stand on the market, the ones that are a wide solid base are the best. (Like these options found on Amazon, shown above.) The water stays inside, the stands don’t tip, there’s no assembly required, and the screws make it possible to hold varying sizes of tree trunks. (Even uneven trunks.)

If you’re choosing between trees that have already been wrapped up:

Sometimes big box stores like Walmart sell trees that are already wrapped up. These are a little trickier to choose from, but:

  • Inspect the top of the tree area to ensure it is full all they way up to the tallest point.
  • Look for an even body of the package. If it sinks in on one side, that side is less full.
  • Look at the trunk where it is cut, it should look fresh and light brown.
  • Again, look for green needles. A healthy tree will have springy needles on somewhat flexible branches. If the needles immediately fall off and the branches are brittle, the tree is too dry.
  • If there are ones sitting in water, and ones laying out on a fence – start with the ones in the water. They have been kept hydrated.
  • When you unbundle your tree, don’t panic if it looks smooshed. It takes a little while for the branches to fall into place.
    • Set the tree in it’s stand with water, unwrap and gently train the branches.
    • Leave the tree to hydrate in the stand for an hour or longer before decorating. The tree should be settled by then.

Christmas trees might be our absolute favorite thing about the holiday season!

Share your tree designs and tips with us on our social!

Tag @DeAnnaAndCompany on Facebook or Instagram.

Home Hack

Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers

We love Thanksgiving leftovers more than Thanksgiving Dinner itself! We’ve rounded up all of our favorite ways to dish up those day-after helpings.

Note: These links are from various cooking blogs we found on the internet. We have no association or affiliation with any of these sites, we just love the recipes! Links open in a separate window.

Make Quiches!

Green Bean Casserole Quiche

We found this idea using left over green bean casserole here. They suggested using a basic quiche recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction here. Then, they augmented the quiche to be Thanksgiving-focused:

“Here’s a tip: Buy an extra frozen deep-dish pie crust before Thanksgiving, then bring it out over the weekend to whip up a quick quiche with the rest of your green bean casserole.

Follow the basic quiche ratio of 4 large eggs, 1 cup dairy (whole milk, half-and-half or cream), 1 cup shredded cheese and 2 cups vegetables or other mix-ins to fill your pie crust.

Pre-bake the pie crust shell according to package directions, then fill and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes, until the quiche no longer jiggles in the center. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.”

Delicious Pull Apart Sammies:

To be honest, we make these with turkey or ham all year! 

Munch with Crunch:

Do we love Crunchwraps? YES. Do we love Thanksgiving Crunchwraps? ABSOLUTELY! 

Thanksgiving Pizza:

It’s not your ordinary pizza, it’s holiday pizza! Mmm… 

Holiday Sandwich:

A sandwich never tasted so good!

Leftovers Rigatoni:

Creamy, rustic, rigatoni deliciousness! 

Potato Leek Soup using leftover mashed potatoes:

Give those mashed potatoes a longer shelf life! 

Cranberry Hand Pies using leftover cranberry sauce:

Turn leftover cranberry sauces and jellies into a flaky pastry dessert! 

Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas:

Great for those wanting a completely different taste profile for their Thanksgiving surplus. 

Waffles using leftover stuffing:

Waffles? Good. Stuffing? Goooood. 

Save those Potato Skins:

Turn those normally tossed potato skins into this twist on the classic. Perfect for munching on while watching all of the games! 

Do you have a favorite way to refresh your Thanksgiving feasts?

Share your favorite recipes with us on our Instagram or Facebook posts this month!  @DeAnnaAndCompany


Caramel Butter Bar Cookies

These rich Caramel Butter Bar Cookies are our fall favorite! Because these cookies are dense and flavorful, they make decadent single serving gifts that friends and family will LOVE. Just slip a square into a decorative wax or cellophane bag with a little ribbon or sticker to close.


  • Flour – 2 cups
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Soft Caramel Squares – 25 pieces
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1 can
  • Butter – 2 sticks, at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
  • Salt – 1/8 teaspoon
  • OPTIONAL – Chocolate for melting

Note: this is a small batch cookie. If you like thicker bars, or want to make a larger order, double the dough/crust part but use the same amount of caramel from the original recipe.


Preheat oven to 350.

  1. Beat butter with hand mixer until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar and salt, beat again.
  3. Scrape down bowl with spatula, mix in flour on low speed.
  4. Press 3/4 of the crust into a small ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Place caramels in microwaveable bowl with the sweetened condensed milk. Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring every minute until it is all melted and combined.
  6. Add vanilla to caramel mixture.
  7. Pour caramel over the crust.
  8. Drop remaining crust in small amounts onto top of caramel.
  9. Bake about 20 minutes or until edges are semi golden.
  10. Allow to cool on countertop and then move to fridge to set.
  11. Cut into 4″ squares to package or serve.


Add a layer of chocolate to make these bars even fancier. Drizzle melted chocolate on top, or after the bars have chilled in the fridge, smooth a layer of chocolate over the top of the bars and return to the fridge to chill. After they have completely hardened, cut into squares.


Curb Appeal

Fall Table Decor

Autumnal Tablescapes

A tablescape doesn’t have to be extremely elaborate to be enjoyable. Using simple things like fall colored vases, candles, with seasonal ceramics and crockery can create a wonderfully inviting table for the big meal. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming.

When gathering items, think “FALL” colors: creams, mustards, oranges, cranberry reds, chocolate browns, etc.

You might already have everything you need! These common household items can make charming tablescapes: 

    • Candles and votives (Don’t light them though, it gets too hot, and becomes a fire hazard when guests are jumbling dinner plates. Opt for LED pillars if you’d like the flickering ambiance.)
    • Small frosted vases
    • Decorative teacups and kettles
    • Creamers, saucers, salt and pepper shakers
    • Cake plates
    • Wooden bowls, spoons, plates
    • Mix and match place settings

Get Creative:

  • Create a grateful jar, where guests can write down things they are grateful for this year, and place them into a cookie-type jar at the center of the table; read the submissions together over dinner or dessert.
  • Add texture to your design with (*washed and air dried*) sprigs of pine, twigs, leaves, or pine cones you find in the yard.
  • Arrange a variety of small photo frames with pictures of:
    • Joyous shared occasions, milestones, and celebrations
    • People, pets, and things you (the host) are grateful for
    • Invite guests to bring small photos of people/pets/things they are grateful for, share stories about the photos
    • Old black and white photos
    • Photos of older friends and family when they were very young, ask them about the photos
    • Pretty photos of fall nature
  • Hand lettered name cards
  • Fancy folded napkins – we used this video on YouTube.
  • Make focal arrangements with faux pumpkins, or miniature real pumpkins and squash

However, if you’re looking to *up* your fall table decor game, check out these finds from Amazon!

Pumpkin Soup Bowls:

Autumn colored/themed Dinnerware:

Harvest Colored Drinkware:

Reusable Name Plates:

Pumpkin Salt and Pepper Shakers:

Remote Controlled LED Fall Candles:

Fall Decoration Stems:

Autumnal Table Runners:

Best Browsing for Fall Finds:

Some of our favorite places to browse for fall decor is right here around town!

Big box retailers: Tuesday Mornings, Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Michael’s, Ross, and Hobby Lobby never disappoint with their seasonal offerings.

Try antiquing: Renniger’s, the various shops in downtown Mount Dora, and the Antique District near downtown Orlando have a good selection of antiques in fall colors and holiday themes too.

Pop-Up Markets and Craft Festivals: Winter Garden, Sanford, Mount Dora, the Milk District in downtown Orlando, and the Audubon Park area near Leu Gardens usually have fall and holiday themed festivals with many vendors offering holiday decor.

If you know of additional places around town for holiday decorating finds, share with us on Facebook or Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Thanksgiving is really about being together and enjoying each other’s company. Decorating should be simply for the fun of it. Any design elements you incorporate to the table are a bonus on this day of gratitude, not required to make your meal more meaningful.


Home Hack

Crock Pots, UNITE!

Our favorite time to use our Crock Pots is the fall, but these slow cooker creations are delicious all year long!

Here is a compilation of our go-to recipes.

  • Of course, our number one being Minestrone Soup! Just dump all of the ingredients from our own recipe here and slow cook until the carrots are your desired softness. About 3 to 4 hours on high.
  • Pinch of Yum’s “Chicken Gnocchi Soup” It’s creamy and delicious!
  • Well Plated by Erin’s “Turkey Quinoa Chili” Let’s face it, this tasty recipe is the only way we’re getting quinoa in our diet.

  • Pip and Debbie’s “Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup” Need we say more?
  • Gather and Dine’s “Creamy Turkey Rice Soup” The perfect care package soup for a friend or family member who’s feeling under the weather. We’d gift it in a mason jar with a little ribbon.
  • Homemade Hooplah’s “Zuppa Toscana” Yup! The closest version we’ve found of our most favorite soup from the Olive Garden!
  • THE EASIEST QUESO ON EARTH – the D&CO. recipe of the month!

Speaking of queso, for those of us that hate cleaning up after, we also use Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners. (Especially helpful for cheesy recipes!) Links to Amazon.

Maybe you don’t have a Crock Pot? GASP! May we suggest the “Crock Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System.” We use this for cooking at home, entertaining, and even for D&CO. events. What we like most about these specific Crock Pots are the pretty colors, and that you can hook them together to create your own buffet. Here’s a pic of these little beauties on Amazon. If you’d like to start small you can find Crock Pot brand slow cookers on Amazon, and from local places like Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, even Best Buy too.


Did we mention how much we LOVE our


What do you make in yours?

Share your go-to slow cooker recipes in the comments on our Facebook or Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany.


The Easiest Queso on Earth!

This queso is a fall must have in our house!


  • 16 oz. Box of Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes.
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies, at your desired spiciness.

Optional – MAKE IT HEARTY:

  • 1 can of Cannellini Beans
  • 1 package of Jimmy Dean (or similar) sausage, at your desired spiciness. (The raw stuff in the plastic tube bag.) BROWNED BEFORE ADDING TO CROCK POT.


  1. Place slow cooker liner in pot if desired.
  2. Cube Velveeta into approx. 1″ cubes and add to slow cooker with 1 can of Rotel.
  3. If making the Hearty Version: Lightly brown sausage in a pan on the stove until it is no longer pink, drain and add to slow cooker. Drain and lightly rinse cannellini beans and add to slow cooker too.
  4. Slow cook on high for about an hour or two, stirring every 30 minutes or so to incorporate the ingredients. Once it reaches desired consistency, reduce to the “low” or “warm” setting.
  5. After a taste test, if desired, use small amounts of Salt, Pepper, and/or Garlic Powder (powder not salt) and spice to taste.
  6. Serve with Corn Chips, Tortilla Chips, Vegetable Sticks, Pretzels, Tater Tots, Pigs in a Blanket, as a topping for Chili… this queso is a versatile crowd pleaser!
Curb Appeal

Cheer for Fall Beers!

“It’s the most won-der-ful tiiiiime, for the beeeeeeers!”

(The fall sugar rimmed beer that started it all. Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton, FL.)

Whether they be Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin ales, brown/red ales with caramel and spiced flavors… fall beers are DeAnna’s absolute favorite beers of the year!

Sip them, DeAnna style: In our opinion, the top notch, BEST-OF-THE-BEST way to drink pumpkin ales are in chilled pint glasses, rimmed with brown sugar and cinnamon. We’re currently loving the pre-mixed sugar rim sold at Eden Abbey Brewing Community in Mount Dora. (They also have a nice selection of seasonal brews that made her list, so be sure to stop for a pint or two!)

Okay, now here’s the ***very important*** (and DeAnna-tested) 2022 FALL BREWS MENU. DeAnna says you can’t go wrong with any one of these seasonal fall finds.

DeAnna’s 2022 Fall Brews Menu

  • Cigar City Brewing; Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  • D9 Brewing Co; Head of the Horseman Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  • Elysian by Chucky; A Killer Wit Beer with Pumpkin and Cranberry
  • Elysian; Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
  • Elysian; The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  • Elysian; Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout
  • O’Fallon Brewery; Salted Caramel Pumpkin Beer
  • O’Fallon Brewery; Pumpkin Cheesecake Cream Ale
  • O’Fallon Brewery; Chai Pumpkin Porter
  • Pontoon Brewing; The Great Punkin’ Spice
  • Shipyard; Pumpkin Head Hard Seltzer
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Gourds Gone Wild Pumpkin Ale

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

Good Gourd from Cigar City Brewing. It’s just the perfect beer for fall. It’s available on tap at Maggie’s Attic in Mount Dora. We found cans for purchase at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

Gourds Gone Wild from Tampa Bay Brewing Company. This one is a little different take on pumpkin, which is a delicious way to mix it up. Found at Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

If seltzer is your thing, we’ve heard Pumpkin Head Hard Seltzer is a popular one for fall, an interesting idea but not one of DeAnna favorites. She’d rather have the fall-in-a-glass beer flavors!

Honestly, this year we found an autumnal ale wonderland at Eden Abby Brewing Community in Mount Dora! If you’re looking to partake, stop in for any one of these on-theme tasty treats!

Find The Best FALL BREWS of 2022 in Florida at:

Eden Abbey – 405 S Highland St, Mt Dora, FL 32757

Maggie’s Attic – 237 West 4th Av. Mount Dora, FL 32757

Motorworks Brewing – 1014 9th Street West Bradenton, FL 34205

Cigar City Brewing – 3924 W. Spruce St. Tampa, FL 33607

Tampa Bay Brewing Co. – 1600 East 8th Ave Tampa, FL 33605

Also, don’t forget about the German American Society Oktoberfest! It’s always a fun time with good beers and great food in the fresh fall air!

When: October 22, 2022 

Where: The German American Society

381 Orange Ln, Casselberry, FL 32707